Due to certain unavoidable circumstances we changed our plan and decided to explore Spiti Region by road. This decision left us with a short duration for preparation but we were confident as we had successfully completed Ladakh road trip previous year. Exploring Spiti region by road was also one of the top wish list in our wanderlust, as it is one of the most thrilling road adventures in India as well as around the world that involves passing through some of the most treacherous terrains in the world. The road to Spiti Valley commonly known as Hindustan - Tibet Highway is a destination in itself and also termed as one of the treacherous or deadliest roads of the world. Due its treacherous terrain we started preparing for the trip in full force within given time frame. A detailed roadmap and pre-planning led us to a successful expedition.
Few quick stats before starting
- A round trip of 4,993 KMs from Mumbai through 7 states in 15 days
- Drove for 13 out of those 15 days
- Covered average distance of about 333 KMs a day
- Max distance of 920 KMs covered in a day
- Stayed in 9 village/town/city
- Crossed 49 tolls and paid INR 2,889/- as fee
- Conquered world's most treacherous road (Hindustan - Tibet Highway)
- Visited world's highest fuel retail outlet, highest post office, & highest village connected by road
- Stayed at an average elevation of 11,000 feet for more than 7 days
- Stayed in temperatures ranging from 0 to 45 degrees
Here we present our summary on how we finally became Spitians
The moment we decided to take this road trip we started preparing for the trip. We looked at each and every aspect of it like tour schedule, acclimatization, acute mountain sickness, necessary vehicle check, ATM, availability of fuel station, stay options, carrying necessary items, etc. We consulted few friends and shared our roadmap plan for participation. We were glad that this time the convoy was much bigger than Ladakh Road trip with two cars from Mumbai, one from Jaipur, two from Delhi along with two bikers. This time we did advance booking upto Kaza as per our tour schedule as post that our journey was not confirmed. Here is the detailed plan of our preparation:
Lahaul - Spiti Expedition by Road - Preparation & Roadmap Trip start date: 20 May 2017
Day 1 & 2: Covered Mumbai to Delhi a distance of 1420 KMs - we have already covered this stretch earlier and followed a slightly different route via Godhra that turned out to be better than our previous experience.
On day 3 & 4 we travelled 643 KMs with an overnight halt at Narkanda. We experienced a comfortable picturesque drive with last leg of arduous 32 KMs covered in dark. The drive upto Narkanda was very comfortable with only one hassle i.e. traffic at Shimla. We covered a distance of 419 KMs upto Narkanda thereby reaching at an altitude of 2,710 meters. From next day onwards the travel was different through varied regions of Himalaya and changing topography. We followed the NH-22 for our onward journey with a detour of 32 KM towards Sangla. We crossed an altitude of above 3000 meters before reaching Sangla with temperature of around 5 degree celsius. Click here for complete experience
We woke up to a beautiful morning and awesome landscape. Our camp was beside Baspa River and surrounded by beautiful Himalaya with a view of snow capped "Kinner Kailash Range". It took us a while to realise that yes we are actually at this scenic place. Life at Rakcham is different and beautiful that mostly consists of shepherds and farmers. The wooden huts of village gave a rustic feel to the landscape. A short but adventurous nature trail through the meadows with colourful wild flowers, small streams, snow, and pine forests against the magnificent backdrop of great Himalayas made our morning awesome. A drive through water streams, unpaved roads, and gravel in the middle of the valley is what we dream. Click here for complete experience
It was a day of achievement for us with majority of world's deadliest road (NH 22 - Hindustan Tibet Highway) being covered. Half part of our journey was covered in dark as well but in the end we achieved our target. The highway actually is a gateway to heaven with changing topography and landscape at every juncture. The journey through these terrains in itself is sightseeing. Every mountain and landscape was speaking to us and telling us some untold mystery. We cannot explain our feelings through words as it can only be felt by actually passing through these terrains. We are sure every traveller would have gone through such feeling while travelling through these terrains. Mesmerizing landscapes, beautiful sky, glittering stars, rivers, and surprises everywhere - Julley to Spiti. Click here for complete experience
It was a beautiful day with clear visibility. After spending beautiful time at historic Tabo, we started our forward journey towards Kaza with a detour towards Dhankar Monastery. While driving through this part of Himalaya one could feel the natural bliss and mesmerising effect on our soul. The varied topography, harsh terrain, amazing landscape, iconic bridges, water streams, and mystery at every juncture in the land of Lama is what we come for. The highway passed through treacherous terrains alongside Spiti River giving us unforgettable memories. We were on our own in the valley with almost negligible traffic movement on the highway. We took numerous halt on the highway just to admire the bounty of nature before reaching Kaza (alt 3740 mtrs) at 4:00 p.m. thereby covering an unbelievable journey of 2325 KM from Mumbai (905 KM from Delhi). It was a moment of pride for all of us! The gradual ascend to Kaza via NH22 highway ensured in getting acclimatize to high altitude. Click here for complete experience
If Ladakh has highest motorable passes of the world then Spiti is not behind with very unique high landmarks of the world. So without wasting any time we decided to complete our wishlist of places nearby Kaza before signing off for the day. It was a mini round tour of around 40 KM that would cover two villages i.e. Hikkim and Komic. Hikkim has the distinction of having "The world's highest Post Office" at an altitude of 4440 mtrs (14567 feet) and Komic is "The highest village in the world connected with motorable road" at an altitude of 4587 mtrs (15050 feet). To our utter surprise Kaza also has another landmark of having the world's highest retail outlet (fuel station) at an altitude of 3740 mtrs (12270 feet) in the world. Click here for complete experience
While starting our journey from Mumbai, the road towards Kunzum Top was closed and we were not sure whether we will be able to scale it. By the time we reached Kaza, the first information that we gathered was about status of Kaza - Manali highway. The information was not favourable as the highway was not yet completely open but Kunzum Pass has been made accessible. So, without any second thought we decided to cover this summit. After an enriching experience of Hikkim & Komic we completed a round trip of around 150 KM from Kaza to Kunzum Pass (4,590 metres) & back. Finally, after four hours drive and sightseeing we reached Kunzum Top @ 2:00 p.m. The valley top offers a picturesque landscape with magnificent view of the Chandra Bhaga ranges that surrounds it on the north sides with snow clad peaks. Such was the majestic site of Chandra Bhaga ranges that one could sit and look at it for hours. Click here for complete experience
Day 7: Kaza - Giu Monastery - Kalpa (228 KM)
Finally, time has come to bid adieu to Kaza for our return journey via same route. With enchanting memories of Kaza, Hikkim, Komic & Kunzum we were again up for a treacherous journey through Hindustan - Tibet Highway. Since we were travelling through same route, we decided to take detour towards Giu Mummy as well as Kalpa to complete our wishlist for this sojourn. Before starting our sojourn of Spiti Valley this place has raised our curiosity as well as excitement due to an existence of naturally preserved "Mummy" and we were here to witness the same. What we saw was an unbelievable sight of a naturally preserved mummy inside a glass case completely dried up and the eyes, teeth and hair on its head still intact. Click here for complete experience
Like Sangla, Kalpa is also one of the hidden gems of Himachal Pradesh nestled in the lap of Himalaya on the Kinner Kailash Range. The Sutlej River below hurtles through deep gorge; the winding mountain road is bordered by chilghoza (pinus gerardiana) forests. The Kinnaur Kailash Range borders the district of Kinnaur in the south and is dominated by Mount Kinnaur Kailash (6050 m) and Jorkanden (6473m) peaks. Jorkanden is the highest peak in the Kinner-Kailash Range. We woke up to a beautiful morning and awesome view of snow capped "Kinner Kailash Range". We were mesmerised by the scenic beauty, surrounding apple orchards and enchanting view of the Kinner Kailash. The mystical feeling was omnipresent. An awesome sight that will remain embedded in our soul till eternity. We spent beautiful time in the vicinity and utilised every ounce of our time. Click here for complete experience
We covered the distance of 610 KMs in two days with a stopover at Theog. We drove through the terrains in Himalaya and gradually moved to greener terrains. Once again a mix of smooth and rough ride and entered inhabited region from Kalpa. Being an adventurous tour, how can a trip end without any activity? We encountered landslide as well as hailstorm and an adventurous climb to our homestay at Theog. By covering this stretch we marked an end to our successful Spiti sojourn thereby reaching Delhi @ 10:00 p.m. with trip meter at 3360 KM. Click here for complete experience
Day 11 to 13: Leisure at Delhi Day 14 & 15: Return journey to Mumbai.
Spiti road expedition is a gateway to heaven with changing topography and landscape at every juncture. Driving through treacherous terrain is adventurous but beautiful. Spiti is not beautiful because of any particular spot or attraction but it is universally mystical. The journey through these terrains in itself is sightseeing. Every mountain and landscape was some untold mystery. We cannot explain our feelings through words as it can only be felt by actually passing through these terrains. We are sure every traveller would have gone through such feeling while travelling through these landscapes. Mesmerizing landscapes, beautiful sky, glittering stars, treacherous terrains, rivers, monasteries, prayer bells, and surprises everywhere - Julley to Spiti. A trip that will remain embedded forever in our heart till eternity. Cheers to the team for successful completion of an adventurous road trip. We will meet again for another exhilarating trip. Till then enjoy reading & exploring!
Note of Thanks - A successful trip was completed by proper planning, teamwork, and support. I would like to specially thank you all for supporting us and achieving making this trip successful.
Ramesh Loty (Spiti Adventure Holidays): An expert with more than 25 years of experience in Spiti Adventure, who guided us to plan our entire itinerary as well as booking hotels at every location. You can contact him at 9418439247.
The Team: A patient and supportive team for this treacherous terrain without whom it would have been very difficult to complete this tour.
Last but not the least to BRO and its worker who move to these harsh and uninhabited conditions to maintain this highway and keep motorable so that enthusiast like us can achieve our road trip expeditions.